Environmental Effects on Human Body Odour

  • Jan Havlicek
  • Pavlina Lenochova

Abstract

Human body odour is individually specific and several lines of evidence suggest that to some extent it is under genetic control. There are however numerous other sources of variation, commonly labelled as environmental factors, which are the main aim of this paper. These include: 1) reproductive status, 2) emotional state, 3) diet and 4) diseases. We primarily focus on axillary and genital odours as they have been proposed to have communicative function. We prelusively conclude that a specific diet and some diseases have major impact on variations in human body odour.

References

  1. Ackerl, K., Atzmueller, M. and Grammer, K. (2002) The scent of fear. Neuro Endocrinol. Lett. 23, 79–84.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Beauchamp, G.K. (1976) Diet influences attractiveness of urine in guinea-pigs. Nature 263, 587–588.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Buttery, R., Guadagni, D., Ling, L., Seifert, R. & Lipton, W. (1976) Additional volatile components of cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. J. Agric. Food Chem. 24, 829–832.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cantafio, L.J. (2003) Human olfactory communication of alarm and safety. PhD. Thesis. Rutgers University, New Jersey.Google Scholar
  5. Chalmers, R.A., Bain, M.D., Michelakakis, H., Zschocke, J. & Iles, R.A. (2006) Diagnosis and management of trimethylaminuria (FMO3 deficiency) in children. J. Inherit. Metab. Dis. 29, 162–172.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chen, D. & Haviland-Jones, J. (1999) Rapid mood change and human odors. Physiol Behav 68, 241–250.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chen, D. and Haviland-Jones, J. (2000) Human olfactory communication of emotion. Percept. Motor Skill. 91, 771–781.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Classen, C., Howes, D. and Synnott, A. (1994) Aroma - The Cultural History of Smell. Routledge, London.Google Scholar
  9. Comfort, A. (1971) Likelihood of human pheromones. Nature 230, 432–433.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Doty, R.L., Ford, M., Preti, G. and Huggins, G.R. (1975) Changes in the intensity and pleasantness of human vaginal odors during the menstrual cycle. Science 190, 1316–1317.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ellis, H. (1927) Studies in the Psychology of Sex IV. Sexual Selection in Man. Random House, New York.Google Scholar
  12. Ferkin, M.H., Sorokin, E.S., Johnston, R.E. and Lee, C.J. (1997) Attractiveness of scents varies with protein content of the diet in meadow voles. Anim. Behav. 53, 133–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Finlay, I.G., Bowszyc, J., Ramlau, C. and Gwiezdzinski,Z. (1996) The effect of topical 0.75% metronidazole gel on malodorous cutaneous ulcers. J. Pain Symptom Manag. 11, 158–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gould, G.M. & Pyle, W.L. (1996) Anomalies and curiosities of medicine. New York: Bell Publ. Comp.Google Scholar
  15. Havlicek, J. and Lenochova, P. (2006) The effect of meat consumption on body odour attractiveness. Chem. Senses 31, 753–759.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Havlicek, J., Bartos, L., Dvorakova, R. and Flegr, J. (2006) Non-advertised does not mean concealed. Body odour changes across the human menstrual cycle. Ethology 112, 81–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hepper, P.G. (1988) The discrimination of human odor by the dog. Perception 17, 549–554.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kavaliers, M., Choleris, E., Agmo, A. and Pfaff, D.W. (2004) Olfactory-mediated parasite recognition and avoidance: linking genes to behavior. Horm. Behav. 46, 272–283PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kavaliers, M. and Colwell, D.D. (1995) Odors of parasitized males induce aversive responses in female mice. Anim. Behav. 50, 1161–1169.Google Scholar
  20. Kuukasjärvi, S., Eriksson, C.J.P., Koskela, E., Mappes, T., Nissinen, K. and Rantala, M.J. (2004) Attractiveness of women’s body odors over the menstrual cycle: the role of oral contraceptives and receiver sex. Behav. Ecol. 15, 579–584.Google Scholar
  21. Laffel, L. (1999) Ketone bodies: a review of physiology, pathophysiology and application of monitoring to diabetes. Diabetes Metab. Res. 15, 412–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Largey, G.P. and Watson, D.R. (1972) The sociology of odors. Am. J. Sociol. 77, 1021–1034.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lovejoy, C.O. (1981) The origin of man. Science 211, 314–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Menkes, J. (1959) Maple syrup disease: isolation and identification of organic acids in the urine. Pediatrics 23, 348–353.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Michael, R.P., Bonsall, R.W. and Kutner, M. (1975) Volatile fatty acids, “copulins", in human vaginal secretions. Psychoneuroendocrino. 1, 153–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Morita, M. & Wang, H. L. (2001) Association between oral malodor and adult periodontitis: a review. J. Clin. Periodontol. 28, 813–819.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Pawlowski, B. (1999) Loss of oestrus and concealed ovulation in human evolution - the case against the sexual-selection hypothesis. Curr. Anthropol. 40, 257–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Pierce, A.A. and Ferkin, M.H. (2005) Re-feeding and the restoration of odor attractivity, odor preference, and sexual receptivity in food-deprived female meadow voles. Physiol. Behav. 84, 553–561.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Podebrad, F., Heil, M., Reichert, S., Mosandl, A., Sewell, A.C. and Bohles, H. (1999) 4,5-dimethyl-3-hydroxy-2[5H]-furanone (sotolone) - The odour of maple syrup urine disease. J. Inher. Metabol. Dis. 22, 107–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Porter, R.H. and Doane, H.M. (1977) Dietary-dependent cross-species similarities in maternal chemical cues. Physiol. Behav. 19, 129–131.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Porter, R.H., Cernoch, J.M. and Balogh, R.D. (1985) Odor signatures and kin recognition. Physiol. Behav. 34, 445–448.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Roberts, S.C., Gosling, L.M., Spector, T.D., Miller, P., Penn, D.J. and Petrie, M. (2005) Body odor similarity in noncohabiting twins. Chem. Senses 30, 651–656.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sastry, S.D., Buck, K.T., Janak, J., Dressler, M. & Preti, G. (1980) Volatiles emitted by humans. In: G.R.Waller and O.C.Dermer (Eds.), Biochemical Applications of Mass Spectrometry, First Supplementary Volume. John Wiley, New York, pp. 1086–1129.Google Scholar
  34. Shwayder, T. (2004) Disorders of keratinization diagnosis and management. Am. J. Clin. Dermatol. 5, 17–29.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Singh, D. and Bronstad, P.M. (2001) Female body odour is a potential cue to ovulation. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B. 268, 797–801.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sommerville, B.A., McCormick, J.P. and Broom D.M. (1994) Analysis of human sweat volatiles - an example of pattern-recognition in the analysis and interpretation of gas chromatograms. Pestic. Sci. 41, 365–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Stoddart, D.M. (1990) The Scented Ape - The Biology and Culture of Human Odour. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Thornhill, R. and Gangestad, S.W. (1999) The scent of symmetry: a human sex pheromone that signals fitness? Evol. Hum. Behav. 20, 175–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Thornhill, R., Gangestad, S.W., Miller, R., Scheyd, G., McCollough, J.K. and Franklin, M. (2003) Major histocompatibility complex genes, symmetry, and body scent attractiveness in men and women. Behav. Ecol. 14, 668–678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wallace, P. (1977) Individual discrimination of human by odor. Physiol. Behav. 19, 577–579.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wolrath, H., Stahlbom, B., Hallen, A. and Forsum, U. (2005) Trimethylamine and trimethylamine oxide levels in normal women and women with bacterial vaginosis reflect a local metabolism in vaginal secretion as compared to urine. APMIS 113, 513–516.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Yalcin, S.S., Tekinalp, G. and Ozalp, I. (1999) Peculiar odor of traditional food and maple syrup urine disease. Pediatr. Int. 41, 108–109.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media,LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan Havlicek
    • 1
  • Pavlina Lenochova
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyCharles UniversityHusnikova 2075Czech Republic

Personalised recommendations